slowing down

How Naps and Mindfulness help your brain

How Naps and Mindfulness help your brain

I’m a big fan of the afternoon nap. Heck, I’m even a fan of the morning nap, if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. 

Given a choice I’d have a nap every day. My hubby said the other day that he thinks humans are designed to sleep in the afternoon and maybe we are all so messed up because we DON’T.

Turns out he’s got a point...

Mindfulness and the Internet

Mindfulness and the Internet

One of the things I ask our teacher trainees to do - as a kind of experiment on themselves  - is to practice pratyahara (sense withdrawal) by staying entirely off the internet for a day.

Most people have a really hard time with that. Particularly those who are heavy users of social media.

I think if having occasional internet fasts as a form of brain detoxification: limiting my online exposure is a way of preventing too much gunk building up again.

Ever Been Pissed Off After Yoga? This Could Be Why

A while back, Kylie from Life Blueprint 365 was telling me that the yoga classes she'd been going to were making her angry.

'Why?', I asked.

'It's the power flow,' she replied, 'I hate moving that fast. It makes me angry.'

Which didn't fully explain the why. You know why the speed was making her angry?

Breath.

In order to move fast through vinyasa, and breathe with every movement, your breath necessarily shortens and speeds up. 

Stress-pattern breathing, basically.

Plus, you tend to overuse your secondary breathing muscles in your neck & shoulders when breathing this way, rather than just using your primary breathing muscles (diaphragm and intercostals). So, what you are effectively doing, as you speed up your breath, is sending a message to your body that it's under stress.

If you breathe quite fast anyway, you won't get angry in fast vinyasa classes, because you won't have to artificially shorten your breath.

But if you breathe slowly?

Sorry, you are gonna have to move slowly. Otherwise, you will leave your yoga class agitated and pissed off.

A few deep breaths and slow movements can't be a bad thing.

Everyone breathes at their own pace - that's why something like Mysore-style Ashtanga practice is great. Everyone goes at their own pace, according to the pace of their own breath.

Even better, my perfect-world situation? A Free Form class where everyone works on their own, personal and personalised practice, and the teacher is there to help them with alignment and keep them in a safe zone. I used to run classes a bit like that as community events, but only the brave came.

I tend in the direction of breathing slowly, practicing slowly and teaching that way. It's what keeps my nervous system on an even keel. But when I was younger, I loved a fast practice. You just have to find what works for you, right now. The thing that DOESN'T piss you off. Just, you know, to be crystal clear. Yeah.

PS: 

The best advice I ever received as a yogi

The best advice I ever received as a yogi

I first encountered this radical (hah!) concept in Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar (incidentally, the book had such a big influence on me, that I went to India to train at his yoga school, totally changed the way I taught and practiced yoga, and now use it as a text book in our own yoga teacher training.) Man, it shook my world. Wanna know what it was?